November 26, 2012

Confessions & Coconut Curry

A really, really long time ago, author Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." I'll get to what that means in a minute, but first I want tell you what I'm not. 

I'm not your average woman. Go ahead, roll your eyes and judge me for being an ego-maniac, but seriously, I speak the truth. If the 21st century is about the strong, independent glamazon, I'm anything but. Men still make my world go round. I have a measly grand total of two BFFs. And I'm only 5 feet tall.

Still not convinced? Ok, how about this? You let me plead my case and I'll let you play both judge and jury. Fair trade, right? Awesome!

I'd like to begin by submitting exhibit A into evidence. Ladies, brace yourselves, and gentlemen, prepare to rejoice because my world is still a man's world. And like the world, my explanation for that statement is twisted.

I'm just not the kind of girl who believes that all men are _______ (ladies, fill in that blank with your choice of abusive adjective). Now, before you begin to boo and hiss in feminist fury, hold the hate! Technically, I'm on your side. I'm just saying, I like women with the audacity to have an opinion. And simply put, under most circumstances, fine, almost always, if given a choice, I'd pick hanging with a dorky dude than a designer ditz.

I think I'm just internally wired to automatically reject anyone who thinks a clutch is a cause for congratulations and celebrations and find endearing innocence in a species that probably doesn't know the difference between Hermes and Herpes.

Long story short, let's just say I don't have a gaggle of girlfriends. 

In fact, honorable jury and judges, I don't have many friends at all. I blame that one on being very antisocial. A life of people and partying poops me out. Go ahead society set, gasp at the scandal of such a blasphemous statement. I'm aware that in a world of constant-connectedness my behavior is practically a criminal offense, but if it makes you feel better, I do know 658 people online, so take that, you comment-counting Facebook fiends! 

Truth is, being my buddy can be tough. I'm notoriously bad at keeping in touch. I never call, never write, and I practically never answer my phone. Sacrilegious? Sure. But despite my commitment to live the life of a hermit, there are still the courageous few who've wormed their way into my life, forgiving and forgetting my flakiness, and eternally fulfilling their vows of chum-dom, even when I don't.

Now, if there's anyone who's weathered the storm that is me, it's my gutsy gal-pal, M. Loud, inappropriate and completely hilarious, she's my favorite kind of woman; a girl with gall. She doesn't make me laugh. She turns me into a howling, hysterical hyena. And she's probably the only person in the world with the nerve to slap sanity into me when I'm being...well, me. 

In school, we banded together as the scrawny girls from America who knew too much English. In life, M has held my hand through millions of melodramatic meltdowns. Through my 36 hours of labor, she cheered me on from first contraction to last push. And in college, when I chose to forgo the freshman fifteen and packed on the freshman four hundred instead, guess who else became a dimple-armed diva? That's right, it was M. So we've stuck with each other through thick and thin, literally. 

For me, college was a time of freedom, irresponsibility, and stupid decision-making. A world of new experiences and endless possibilities, colored by a healthy dose of denial. A stage in life to develop the kind of thought-process that made you believe you could empty a keg AND ace your finance final at the crack of dawn the next day.

Me, personally? I was delusional about the dietary damage of burgers for breakfast and donuts for dinner. The result? Let's just say I ended up basking in gargantuan glory! 

And finally, we speak of size! It's time to close this case with my final and most incriminating piece of evidence that I am indeed not normal; the matter of being minuscule. 

At a grand total of 60 inches tall, I'm what can politely be termed as vertically-challenged. The harsh reality? I'm only an inch away from legally being declared a midget. You know what that means? It means that legroom is never an issue, that I'm a championship piggy-back racer (I'm the piggy, not the back) and that I save a bomb when I shop for the "young miss" section. It also means that for a small girl, I have a monster mouth.

And at last we come full circle. If Anthelme was right, that you really are what you eat, then nothing defines me better than my friend M's coconut curry. Consider it my food alter-ego. Flecked with mint, this creamy curry is as cool as my gay guy-friends, fiercely fiery like my favorite girls, and despite it's surprisingly simple ingredients, it's bursting with flavors bigger than my yap-box.

Ordinarily, lemon juice is added to the curry right before you're ready to take it off the heat, but I prefer serving lemon cheeks on the side. Fresh squeezed lemon adds a zesty zip of acidity that cuts through the richness of the curry like a charm.

For the perfect pairing, serve this decadent coconut-infused concoction with the bright freshness of cilantro rice and I promise you'll have a dinner that's way, way beyond average. 

Chicken Coconut Curry (approx. 4-6 servings)
Adapted from Chicken Coconut Curry, by Manizeh Kamal

  • 1/2 kg (approx.1lb) boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 small lemons, juiced
  • 1/2 packet Shaan Achar Gosht Masala, seived
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, pureed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, pureed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced finely
  • 1/2-1 can coconut milk
  • 50 g creamed coconut, crumbled (available in sachets at Al-Fatah) 
  • 1 large red capsicum, julienned
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 small lemons, for garnish

- Dice the chicken into 2 inch cubes and in a medium bowl, toss with lemon juice and 1/4 to 1/2 a packet of the sieved Shaan Achar Gosht Masala. How much of the spice mix you use really depends on how spicy you like your curry. 

- In a medium sized pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion puree, cooking until the onion starts becoming translucent, approximately 8-10 minutes.

- Add the minced garlic and ginger to the onions and fry for 3-5 minutes until you can smell their fragrance and the onion starts to caramelize.

- Season with salt and add the tomato puree to the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the tomatoes and onions have completely broken down and the excess liquid from the tomatoes has dried up, approximately 5-8 minutes. At this point, the oil should turn orange and begin to separate from the mixture. 

- Add the lemon and spice coated chicken to the pot, combining and coating it with the tomatoes and onions. Fry the chicken until it begins to lightly brown, approximately 8-10 minutes.

- Add the crumbled coconut cream and 1/2 to 1 can of coconut milk to the chicken. Using 1/2 a can of coconut milk makes a relatively thick curry. If you prefer a runnier curry, add more coconut milk.  Cook over a medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, until the curry begins to thicken. 

- Add the julienned red bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes or until the pepper softens slightly.

- Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tbsp of fresh chopped mint. Serve hot.

Cilantro Rice (approx 4-6 servings)

  • 4 cups basmati rice, cooked and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves

- In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice and cilantro. Using two forks to gently lift and toss the two together will result in  light, fluffy, fragrance-infused rice. Serve warm. 

Ultimately, the truth is I'm mathematically-challenged and figuring out where I sit on the curve is about as likely as me growing another inch or two. But who cares, right? Like I said before, I'm anything but average so I'm perfectly content being defined by a killer bowl of curry than by some sorry statistical blip.

Until next time, friends and foes, have a super week and stayed tuned for a seriously delicious giveaway coming up over the weekend! Happy eating :)

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  1. Great recipe! i liked the shan masala short cut, and the tip about sieving it,i'm going to try this recipe with fish though, since i'm avoiding the diseased chicken predominant in this country!

    1. Hi Mishel! Thanks for reading Hunger & Haw Hai :) A couple of tips if you're going to try this recipe with fish. First, use a firm-fleshed fish, like sole. Second, once you place the fish in the pot, avoid stirring. Instead, grab the handles of your pot and gently shake it to keep the fish from sticking. Finally, only turn the fish over once with a slotted spoon. This keeps your fish from breaking and falling apart.

      Good luck and keep me posted on how it turns out :)

  2. This looks absolutely beautiful; and Shan Masala to make Chicken Coconut Curry - That's just so innovative.
    Just started following you and loving the way you wrote; its just as interesting as the recipes that you are posting :) ..
    Would like it if you would check out my blog too -

    1. Hey Kay! Just checked out your blog. Great recipes and I know exactly what you mean when you say you love to talk about food. I can fill my tummy just talking about food :)

      I'm thrilled that you like my writing and I really appreciate your support! Keep checking in for new content by following me on and let me know how your experiments with my recipes turn out :)

  3. well it :)

  4. i'll be friends with you if you'll feed me food. if it helps - i don't think there's much difference between hermes and herpes: going towards either is a lifelong choice and disease.

    ps: this blog is awesome - always on the lookout for great recipes and good writing.

    1. Mariam, thanks a million for reading Hunger & Haw Hai. I'd love to be pals if you agree to a food exchange :) Again, much love for supporting my blog! So what would you like to eat? That's a real invitation, so really think about it and get back to me.

      And remember to keep tuning in for new posts every Sunday. Have a great day :)

  5. hi love the recipe, will try it on my day off. here in Dubai coconut and its products are easy to find because of Indians. please post some innovative breakfast ideas as i am sick of eating fried egg and Omelettes . i am a breakfast person so hoping to hear great and quick ideas. thank you

    1. Hey, I'm glad you like the recipe :) I know breakfast can be tough. I'm not a morning person so trying to think of what to eat is torture. Next week, I'm making Kashmiri chai with pistachio spoons and cheese scones with marmalade butter. Perfect for breakfast or tea-time. I hope you like it :) Let me know how your curry turns out.


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